Pro Bono Month 2021 – Pro Bono Legal Services are Essential for Such a Time as This

Eligible hours must be completed between October 1st and October 31st

There is not a week that goes by where I do not receive a call from someone who has no money, no resources, and no access to legal services. It breaks my heart to refer them to places that offer pro bono assistance only to be told, “I’ve tried them and they cannot take on any new cases at this time.” Study after study has shown that poor Americans find it very difficult to secure quality representation in our costly legal system. At the same time, budget cutbacks for legal services have made it increasingly difficult for not for profit agencies and legal service providers to meet their client’s needs. Financially strapped, they must turn away clients every day because they lack the resources to take on every case. In the United States, Americans need a lawyer’s help for everything from avoiding an unjust eviction to preventing a wrongful conviction. Yet, effective legal assistance remains out of reach for the majority of Americans. This justice gap between legal needs and the services available exacerbates systemic inequities and disadvantages for the most vulnerable populations in our society: people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBTQ, and more. These days, people are more likely to live in poverty and more likely to need legal assistance, such as: claiming protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, preventing evictions, problems with health care, or domestic violence that often requires, at a minimum, legal advice, and at most, filing paperwork or litigation. The need for pro bono work is evident: “In 2017, 86% of low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help for civil legal problems.”

The Community Needs YOU!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) has a strong pro bono culture. We recognize the growing severity of unmet legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged in the state of Georgia. As such we encourage and support the participation of our students, faculty, alumni, and staff in pro bono activities. AJMLS provides a broad range of pro bono opportunities to ensure that our law school community can participate in pro bono activities.  

October is Pro Bono Month

Fundraising Thermometer - CouponBirds Seedling Project

In honor of the AJMLS commitment to service, all students, staff, faculty, and alumni are hereby challenged to perform as many pro bono hours as possible this month. Everyone can participate! There are service opportunities that do not require legal knowledge/skills, so don’t be shy – simply find a cause and start making a difference. Also, being the fierce advocates that we are, alumni and students will compete for the most hours completed. You can visit the pro bono website here to learn more and view opportunities. For inquiries or to share a pro bono opportunity, please contact the Office of Experiential Learning and Pro Bono Programs.

The AJMLS Pro Bono Program reinforces the mission of the law school and promotes the development of a law school community with a strong social conscious and dedication to improving the legal system and society. Our community needs you for such a time as this.

Dr. Bridgett E. Ortega

Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development

Fuel Your Fire: Avoiding Burn-Out, Mental Fatigue, and Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

It’s the end of September, and in normal circumstances, that means that many law students are experiencing fatigue, exhaustion, and burn-out, while simultaneously experiencing anxiety, fear, and worries about impending midterms. Add to that mix concerns about a global pandemic, navigating virtual classes, combine that with a sense of isolation that accompanies not engaging in normal routines and social interactions, and you have a recipe for mental fatigue and burn-out. It is little wonder that law students in the current environment find themselves worried about staying on top of their reading, maintaining motivation, keeping up their energy, and performing academically. 

Many students are asking themselves how they can re-energize, reinvigorate, and replenish their taxed mental faculties, emotional resources, and physical stamina.

If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place. 

It’s Normal to Feel Bleh

First and foremost, let’s just take a moment and be realistic and let the proverbial cat out of the bag. Everyone experiences some level of mental fatigue and burn-out in law school, especially after the initial rush of energy that accompanies starting a new semester. If you are feeling this way, I promise you that you are not alone, although it may feel that way because there is the general sense that you are not allowed to have a down day or week.

One of the astonishing things about law school is that there is this atmosphere and mindset that everyone must suddenly become superhuman. If someone told you a story about someone not getting enough sleep, regularly staring at a computer screen too long, reading books all night, who is somewhat isolated, and who has an ever-closer approaching set of tests on his or her radar, you would expect that person to be fatigued and approaching burn-out. Generally, it is easier to give others solid advice and share wisdom, and I bet that if I asked you to give the aforementioned person in the story some advice, you would share your best tips and tricks to help them stay motivated, recuperate, and re-energize. However, when it comes to following that advice yourself, you may find that you are resistant to incorporating your own advice and best practices. This makes sense because we are often far harder on ourselves and tend to hold ourselves to standards that we would not expect others to meet. But if you pause and think, that advice that you would give to someone else is good, so maybe it would be helpful to hear that same or similar advice from an external source.

That’s where this advice comes in. It’s based on real world experience from someone who has been there, done that, in terms of both law school and working remotely. It will likely mirror advice that you would give someone else, but may be unlikely to follow yourself. Hopefully, you will find the advice below helpful to your pursuit of success in a very challenging environment, and will also be encouraged to engage in best practices to perform at your best.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

This is one of my favorite sayings, and it perfectly applies to your experience in law school. We have so many competing aspects to managing our time effectively, and it quickly becomes easy to sacrifice things like sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and spending time with friends and family. However, like all things in life, balance is key, and if you do not take care of the fundamentals, then you will not be able to excel in other areas. Making sure you are doing the things that are at the core of being a happy and healthy human goes hand-in-hand with making sure you are a successful and high-functioning student.. 

One of the best ways to deal with mental fatigue and burnout is to actually rest. Get enough sleep, and try to get on a regular snooze schedule. This is especially important when the time changes, as you don’t want to fall off the success wagon just because time falls back an hour. Sleep has numerous benefits, and getting enough will keep you alert, refreshed, and ready to engage with law school materials and professors. Bonus tip: never overlook the power of the powernap.

Although this will sound obvious, eating regularly is important because you need fuel to keep your mental fires burning brightly. However, as someone who struggles with this personally, one of the first things that often goes when stress is high and time feels tight is quality eating (or eating at all). Skipping meals is a recipe to feeling fatigued, and if you find your mind wandering or food commercials diverting your attention, you will definitely want to take note and grab some grub. Try to eat a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fats on a regular basis, and you will find yourself energized and ready to go.

Once you are rested and carbed up, you will find engaging in physical activity much easier. As someone who had a couple of surgeries during the pandemic, I definitely have experience with how a lack of activity and a failure to engage in normal routines can take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. If you want your mental machinery to operate at the highest levels, you have to make time for activity. A brisk walk, yoga, a bike ride, or any similar activity will not only help you burn some calories, but it will also get your blood flowing and lead to the release of helpful neurotransmitters in your brain. Sunlight is your friend, so with the time-change impending, get out and enjoy yourself. A happy brain is your friend, so make sure to exercise regularly!

Speaking of not wrecking yourself, if you have ever seen the movie Castaway (Tom Hanks, Wilson the Volleyball, isolation to the extreme), you may be aware that too much alone time is bad news. However, when you are focused on a task or stressed about an outcome, it is easy to start sacrificing your most important meaningful interactions with friends and family. My advice is simply this: Don’t. If you treat law school like your job (which you should), then you should also enjoy the fruits of your labors. Although work may get busy, you still have to “go home” at some point and engage socially. This is easy to overlook, especially in the virtual world, where “going home” may involve shifting 9 centimeters to the left on the couch or hiding your laptop under the bed for a bit. However, you must make time for your mental and emotional well-being, and engaging with people who care about you is important. 

If you take care of yourself, you will be at your best to perform your best!

Limit Distractions

There is one thing that I can confirm about virtual studying, remote working, or being at home generally. You will always be able to find a distraction. It is guaranteed. Whether you have a family, a dog, a cat, a Netflix account, an imaginary friend, or a phone or other device generally, I promise that you will be able to find a distraction that can take you away from your work.

If you want to perform at the highest levels, you have to put aside the distractions and focus. This means turning off the phone notifications, turning off the tv, closing GroupMe, putting your cat down for the first time in five days, and telling your dog that fetch will have to wait 30 minutes. You will always perform better if your attention is not split between multiple activities, and even a momentary distraction such as a new Instagram post, the ‘ding’ of an arriving text message, or the new Taco Bell commercial on tv (I still do not know if it is a taco or a sandwich) can each impact your memory, retention, and engagement with materials. Work when it is time to work, and engage with social media and other distractors later. Focus is key.

Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail

Speaking of engagement, one of the most distracting and mentally taxing things you can do in your life is trying to not do something you really enjoy doing. If you think that I am kidding, I highly encourage you to stock your refrigerator with your favorite food, and then try not to eat it. Not only will you mentally feel like you are missing out, but it will slowly become a bigger and bigger distraction (and by it, I’m talking specifically about you, Reese’s Cups that haunt me). So, how do you follow BOTH of the aforementioned pieces of advice and Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself AND Limit Distractions? You plan it out and you have a schedule.

If you schedule in your fun activities, your necessary activities (again, we are talking about sleep, eating, exercise, and spending time with friends and family), and your schoolwork, you will find it much easier to devote time to each and be fully present when you are engaging in each. If you know that you are going to eat a Reese’s Cup on Friday, it becomes much easier to avoid getting the King Sized version out of your refrigerator while you are trying to write an advice post. Too personal? Sue me (although if you’ve been paying attention in Civil Procedure, you may find standing to be an issue).

All kidding aside, it is much easier to engage in the study of law when you have a schedule. Beyond the times you have to attend class, you should make a schedule for studying, socialization, break times, watching your favorite football team or video, engaging in social media, or anything else that you want to do. The key to successful time management is to give each aspect of your life the dedicated time necessary to be happy, rested, and successful, without feeling like you are sacrificing something entirely. Balance and moderation are important, and you must make time for your well-being.

Know Your Purpose

Last, but never least, is knowing your purpose. If you wake up each day, go to sleep each night, and dedicate time throughout each day to reminding yourself of your purpose and goals, it is much easier to keep going when the going gets tough. Focus on why you are doing what you are doing, and try to maintain awareness of how each thing that you do each day is leading you on your personal journey towards success.

One of the things that I find most helpful in maintaining your path to success and your motivation is visualization. There are three types of visualization that I encourage you to engage in, and although this may sound like a Charles Dickens story, past, present, and future visualization are all valuable.

Past visualization references picturing a time in life when you were successful and happy. Sometimes in the midst of the rigors of law school, it is easy to forget all of the academic, personal, and professional accomplishments that led you to the opportunity to be enrolled in law school, and taking a few minutes to think about your previous success can motivate you towards continuing your success journey.

Speaking of, do not forget to think about the things you are accomplishing now. It is easy to feel like an endless array of cases, black letter law, studying, and writing are overwhelming you, but the truth of the matter is that each day you are accomplishing, learning, and growing. Remembering to give yourself kudos and acknowledging each day’s accomplishments can be both motivating and empowering, so I encourage you to visualize three things that you have accomplished each day.

Finally, remember to visualize your future success and accomplishments. Picture yourself successfully completing an exam, walking at graduation, passing the bar exam, inviting your friends and family to your swearing-in ceremony, and a host of other future events can provide fuel to reinvigorate your fire when it wanes, so make sure to always keep your eyes on the prize.

In Conclusion

On the surface, all of the above may seem like common sense, but it is often the little things that fly out the window when stress grows and time feels short. Please make sure to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and psychologically during the rigors of law school. You deserve to be here, you are capable, and you will be successful if you put the time, effort, and dedication into this experience that it (and you) deserve.

Burning-out  and mental fatigue are normal, but sometimes stress and problems can move beyond the normal and become problematic. Please always remember that you are never alone and that people care about you as an individual. If you find yourself in need of additional support and assistance, please visit our counseling resources page located at: https://www.johnmarshall.edu/ajmls-students/student-services/counseling-services/.

2001 Alumna, Judge Rhonda Kreuziger, Appointed Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 2001 alumna, Judge Rhonda Kreuziger, on her recent appointment as Superior Court Judge for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, covering Fayette, Pike, Spalding, and Upson counties. Upon her swearing-in, Judge Kreuziger became the first female and first African-American superior court judge in the circuit. 

Nominated by her predecessor, Griffin Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Christopher C. Edwards, stated, “I know she will fit right into the bench with our four other excellent judges.” Judge Kreuziger was appointed by Governor Kemp on July 20, 2021 and sworn in on August 19, 2021.

While a student at AJMLS, Judge Kreuziger was a member of the mock trial team, editor-in-chief of the The Advocate newsletter, and the first AJMLS student to intern at the Attorney General’s Office. As a forensic scientist, she attended classes both day and night while maintaining her previous career. She credits the Law School’s flexibility with her ability to manage working as a scientist and attending law classes, and describes her experience at the school as “phenomenal”.

“If you are willing to put in the time and effort, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School will afford you every opportunity you need,” says Judge Kreuziger.

This appointment is not her first post on the bench having served the Griffin Judicial Circuit as the Associate Juvenile Court Judge, and previously, Chief Judge of the City of Fayetteville Municipal Court. 

Prior to the bench, Judge Kreuziger served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Griffin Judicial Circuit before opening her own law practice. Her practice focused on Criminal Law, Family Law, and General Civil Litigation.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is pleased to celebrate this historic milestone and wishes Judge Kreuziger much success in her new role.

August 2021 Employee of the Month, Hal Morgan

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) established its Employee of the Month Program in 2021 to recognize hard working employees, especially as we navigate uncharted times in legal education. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The August 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Hal Morgan, Enterprise Systems Administrator.

Hal joined the AJMLS family in March of 2015. As described by one of his co-workers, “Hal has been exemplary and a model for demonstrated zeal, conviction, and determination to provide great customer care.” Hal’s patience and kindness are ever present, even when he is in a time crunch, he will acknowledge you and make an effort to find a solution to help you.  

Hal resides in Kennesaw and his hobbies include golf (though he admits his skills are not at par), exploring new places, mountain getaway trips, camping, watching Georgia football, and spending time with his son.

He is highly appreciated by students, faculty, and staff alike. We are very fortunate to have Hal on our team!

AABS Right Way Writing: Grammar Help

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Grammar. The word itself is often enough to trigger anxiety, and depending on your background and experience, you may have various concerns you want to address, but you may not be sure where to go to address those concerns. 

Never fear, AABS is here! Below, find a list of ten websites that you can peruse in your own time to work to improve your grammar, answer questions that you may have, and to improve your word wizardry.

Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS) Grammar Resources

1. Core Grammar for Lawyers

2. Purdue Online Writing Lab- Grammar

3. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction- Punctuation and Grammar Basics for Students; The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction- Punctuation and Grammar ADVANCED

4. DYC’s Online Writing Lab

5. Excelsior Online Writing Lab- Grammar Refresher

6. The Punctuation Guide

7. Grammarly (guide that works with you as you write to develop best practices)

8. The Guide to Grammar and Writing

9. Common Grammatical and Punctuation Errors

10. The Grammar of Legal English

We hope that you find these links helpful, and as always you are welcome to reach out to our office if you need anything – aabs@johnmarshall.edu.

Introducing the 2021-2022 Advocacy Board Executive Board

Membership

All full-time and part-time students enrolled at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 are eligible for admission to Advocacy Board. A student may receive an invitation to the organization by successfully competing through the G. Alan Blackburn Moot Court Competition or the Richardson Lynn Moot Court Competition, which is the intra-school competition held before the start of the fall semester.

Executive Board

Edward Hardrick, Chair

Edward Hardrick was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Georgia most of his life. After graduating from Grayson High School, he earned a B.S. in Political Science from the University of North Georgia and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Georgia National Guard as an artillery officer. Just prior to enrolling into law school, Edward completed several training assignments with the U.S. Army at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Ft. Polk, Louisiana, and Ft. Stewart, Georgia. 

Edward matriculated into the Law School in the Fall of 2017. Subsequently, Edward took military leave from Fall 2018 until Spring 2020 to deploy to Afghanistan where he served as an Infantry platoon leader and Fire Support Officer earning the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Award for service during the deployment. Upon returning to the law school in the Spring of 2020, Edward served as Student Bar Association Vice President, earned a CALI Award for Legal Writing, began work as a Student Associate at an Atlanta-based law firm, and received invitations to join Moot Court and Law Journal.  Edward was excited to be chosen to lead the Advocacy Board as its next Chair. As he prepares to graduate this upcoming December, Edward is excited to help Moot Court position itself for a successful competition semester in the Spring and ensure its continued success in the coming years.

Bethany Keyes, Vice-Chair

Bethany Keyes is from middle Georgia and is currently a part-time day student at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School with an expected graduation date of December 2022. She has a degree in Business Administration and a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law. 

Prior to law school, Bethany volunteered with a social media group to help alleviate poverty within her local community. Since August 2021, she has worked as a Student Associate at a law firm located in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Bethany honorably accepted a Vice-Chair position on the Advocacy Board because she has always had a passion for the law, helping others, and advocating. Further, this opportunity will allow her to collaborate with peers and refine her research, editing, and writing skills. 

Mats Rosen, Vice-Chair

Mats Rosen, a full-time 3L student at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, is from Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He graduated from Colorado State University in 2017 with a B.A. in Sociology along with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies. Mr. Rosen has always had a passion for learning and excelling in whatever position he asked to serve in. Helping others in times of need has been the mission that he seeks to carry out, a mission he assisted with during his time as an intern at the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mr. Rosen hopes to take the experiences that he has learned from that organization and law school and apply those skills in his role as an attorney.

He has earned CALI Awards in Contracts I, Civil Procedure I, Criminal Procedure, and Legal Writing, and Research Analysis III and is also one of the Line Editors on the Law Journal. Upon completion of his second year, Mr. Rosen was invited to join the Moot Court Appellate Advocacy Board. He sought a position on the Executive Board to assist with member recruitment and retention to further grow the organization as he begins his transition from law school to legal practice.

Michael Stewart, Vice-Chair

Michael Stewart is originally from Warner Robins, Georgia and grew up in the Houston County school system. After high school, Michael attended Kennesaw State University where he participated in three campus choirs as well as the Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity. Michael earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Kennesaw State University in December 2018 before beginning at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in the Fall of 2019.

In his spare time, Michael is heavily involved in the theater industry of Georgia including serving on the Board of Governors of a non-profit and community theatre in Perry, Georgia and serving as adjudicator for the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards (Shuler’s). Michael is very excited to get more involved in extra curricular activities at Atlanta’s John Marshall and is looking forward to a great year serving as Vice-Chair of Moot Court.

Joshua Elbaz, Fundraising Chair

Joshua Elbaz was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Suwanee, Georgia for most of his life. After graduating from North Gwinnett High School, he earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Georgia Gwinnett College. 

Joshua entered Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in the Fall of 2019 with high hopes and a lot of ambition. During his 1L year, Joshua began interning with attorney Lawrence Lewis with hopes of becoming familiar with the field of Criminal Defense and trial work. Joshua had continued to intern with Attorney Lawrence Lewis throughout his law school journey and has participated in close to 10 jury trials since he began law school. Joshua served as an SBA representative during his 1L year, and as a Peer Mentor Director during his 2L year. Joshua founded the Student Trial Lawyers Association (STLA) during the summer of his 2L year with the hopes of helping and guiding other law students who want to be trial lawyers after school. Joshua currently sits on the executive board for Moot Court, which he was invited on, as well as The Student Trial Lawyers Association, which he founded.

Zooming In, but Zoning Out? Top Ten Tips to Maintain Focus in a Virtual Class Environment

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

The most frequent concerns I hear from students around any shift to a virtual environment are in regards to staying focused, paying attention, and making sure they continue to learn and expand their knowledge. Many students express frustration around the difficulties of concentrating in a remote classroom and are concerned that their performances may suffer. The good news is that although this learning environment can create new challenges, it is one that you can survive and even thrive in. These tips work great in any virtual learning environment, whether in law school or preparing for the bar exam.

Here are my top ten tips for maintaining focus, attention, and learning in the virtual world:

1. Designate a space.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about myself over the past year is my tendency to perform better when I set aside an area that is just for working. I think of it much like going to the gym. Once you walk in the door, you are likely to flip a mental switch and your expectations shift as to what to expect in that environment. When you hear the sounds of weights clanking, treadmills grinding, or someone like me complaining that I cannot get the double knot out of my shoes, you know where you are and what you are there to accomplish.

Virtual learning is the same way. If you attempt to work from a space where you often engage in other activities, whether it’s sleeping, watching tv, or reading a book, it can be hard not to let your mind wander. Set aside a space where you live to engage actively with your learning environment, and try not to do other things there.

That said, I remain very aware of the constrictions of working from home for many, and you may not have a space that is readily available to be set aside. In that case, I recommend that when the time comes for a class that you change the space around, effectively creating a work environment. This could be something as simple as setting out some highlighters and some books, moving a vase, or clearing off the table, but the key is that you have a transition moment for the space and your learning. When you know you are entering your proverbial mental gym, your expectations, mindset, and mood will adjust accordingly.

2. Turn on your camera.

Trust me, I know. The thought of making sure you are camera-ready can be concerning, but being on camera is important. For starters, it involves you directly in the class, as opposed to observing from afar. The awareness that others can see if you are paying attention operates similarly in class, and your tendency to avoid staring at the ceiling and singing show tunes will decrease dramatically when you know someone might see.

All kidding aside, being on camera also helps your professor to engage with you. One of the biggest things I struggle with within the virtual environment when engaging with students is being able to see expressions. Oftentimes, I assume that I am making my point, only to see looks of confusion in my audience, and that helps me realize that I need to try a different approach, speak more clearly, or revisit the differences between my base knowledge and what I think I am communicating, versus what my audience is receiving. Help yourself stay engaged, and help your professor to engage with you, and stay on camera.

3. Turn off your phone.

This is a big one. Turn off your phone (or at least silence it), turn off your notifications, and flip it upside down until class is over. Phones are a big distraction generally, and they tend to lead to rapid shifts in attention while simultaneously allowing opportunities to zone out. Buzzfeed has some top ten lists that are more humorous than this, but it won’t help you learn what you need to know for class. Give your phone a break.

Also, the urge to text, WhatsApp, etc., is another phone no-no that can prevent you from focusing in class. As soon as you send that first message or receive that first message, your attention is partially devoted to awaiting the next message, which makes it hard to stay in the present moment.

4. Do not browse the internet.

This is another danger zone (cue Top Gun music).

I avoided the urge to Google what year the movie Top Gun came out right then, but that only goes directly to my point. The internet is a lovely place full of a variety of sources of news, information, entertainment, and so much more, but it is also an easy place to mentally meander for hours exploring the history of the movie Top Gun instead of paying attention in class. Resist the urge to go on an endless search for the world’s best strawberry cheesecake recipe (but if you have one, feel free to let me know) and stay in the moment.

I am not oblivious to the fact that sometimes in class something may be said that encourages you to explore information or to search a definition, but I encourage you to wait and stay focused on your class. Instead of diverting your attention during class, do what I recommend in number 5.

5. Make a list and take notes.

In the modern world, we want what we want, and we want it now. Just ask anyone who has ever delivered Thai food to me at 2:00 a.m. However, pursuing knowledge by searching the internet or frantically flipping through a book can be a huge distraction from what your professor is saying/showing on your screen, so save that for later. Making a list and taking notes can also help you stay on track with your learning, ensuring that you complete assignments (it feels great to check off an accomplishment), and helps you stay accountable to yourself.

Not only does creating a list give you something to do later to ensure you are maximizing your learning, it prevents you from missing out on anything said in the present, and it also keeps you actively engaged after class is over. There will be plenty of time after your class hours to search out terms and explore cases (and you may even find time to track down that strawberry cheesecake recipe), so maximize your engagement in class.

6. Immediately review after class.

This should be on your list whether you are in-person or virtual, but it is something that students sometimes forget when online. When we are at home or in our own space, it is very easy to immediately click ‘end meeting’ and turn to a streaming service such as Disney+, but ‘What If?’ you didn’t? (That reference to a Disney+ Marvel show was 100% intentional).

Instead of immediately shifting your attention to the next thing on your to-do list, review what you just covered in class, your list, and your notes. You may find gaps in your note-taking, areas that you need to explore or uncover questions for your professor that you can make note of before you forget. Think of it like utilizing someone’s name in a conversation after you meet them – you are much more likely to remember a name if you use it when addressing the person, so make sure to actively engage with your material before you have time to forget (and if you are reading this, I’m sorry Taylor – I’ll remember next time!).

7. Join an accountability group.

Just as you want to maintain focus and review after class as an individual, you also want to have accountability with others to assist you in staying on track (and to assist them as well!). Knowing that you will be meeting with others to discuss cases, black letter laws, bright-line rules, and lecture notes help ensure that you stay on track. Discussing things with others is not only beneficial for your learning, but will help you fill in gaps, find new ways of thinking about things, and ensure that you are focusing on the right things.

When it is just you being accountable to you, it is easier to slip up, but when you know others will be counting on you and that you have a role to play in a bigger group it will help you perform better. This is beneficial if you schedule your group meeting on the same day that you have class, and has the bonus of serving as an additional review that will help you retain information in the long term.

8. Noise-canceling headphones.

Distractions are dangerous, and no matter how laser-focused your eyes are, if your ears are tuning into something else, you can rest assured that you are tuning out. I often think of my dog when she thinks someone might be dropping off a pizza at the door, no matter where her eyes are, her ear is up and her head is tilted. It’s hard to maintain focus on one person speaking when you are concerned about pizza delivery, and this carries over to class as well.

If noises, others talking, or your neighbor’s unrelenting bass (my issue) are a problem, then invest in some noise-canceling headphones. This will help you keep your focus on class, and not on plotting your next angry knock on your neighbor’s door. Listening with focus, combined with active note-taking and list-making, will help you learn and retain information better.

9. Snacks.

Eat. It should go without saying, but I often fall victim to the angry grumbling distraction that is my hungry stomach. Sometimes, because we are not following a live, in-person schedule, we do not plan the simple things like remembering to eat meals on a schedule. When you are at home, it is much easier to forget to pay attention to the clock, and you can find yourself struggling to stay focused in class when you know that extra-large pepperoni pizza is in the kitchen waiting for you.

It is always good to have a handy, non-distracting snack and beverage nearby, just in case. What do I mean by non-distracting? I mean that it shouldn’t be difficult for you to open, runs the risk of spilling all over your shirt, or requires 40 paper towels to maintain clean hands during class. Having something to snack on and something to drink can keep you mentally alert and focused during class, especially when you forget to eat the meal prior.

10. Exercise.

Let me be clear here. I am not suggesting that you attend class from a treadmill or while spinning away on an exercise bike. Instead, what I am recommending is that you remember to step away from your desk. One of the biggest pitfalls of remote learning or working is that you can inadvertently spend too much time in your workspace. You need to remember to take a break from the screen!

There are also a ton of benefits to exercise, from increasing feel-good neurotransmitters to cardiovascular health, and it also is a great way to relieve stress. If you are someone who has concerns about the virtual learning environment, finding good ways to release stress and relieve anxiety is important, and one of the best ways to do so is to exercise. Even if you just take a walk outside for 15 minutes or walk up a few flights of stairs, you will find plenty of benefits from exercise.

Hopefully, you found these ‘Top Ten Tips to Maintain Focus in a Virtual Class Environment’ to be helpful, and I encourage you to explore and develop additional tips to ensure that you make the best of the virtual experience. It is a different environment, but one that you absolutely can thrive in and where you can achieve a high level of learning and success.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Moves Downtown, Receives Largest In-Kind Donation from American Cancer Society

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is delighted to announce its recent move to One Marquis Tower in Downtown Atlanta. After a multi-floor construction project, designed by Stevens & Wilkinson, the Law School took possession of its pristine new campus on August 6, 2021. AJMLS is now housed on three full floors of One Marquis Tower and comprises almost 60,000 square feet of classroom and office space, including a spacious law library and courtroom. The move from midtown to downtown culminated after months of construction led by general contractor Humphries and Company, who completed the project is less than 24 weeks.  

In connection with its move, the Law School received its largest in-kind donation from the American Cancer Society of premium office furniture. The Atlanta nonprofit donated enough furniture to furnish every office, conference room, and common area in the new facility. The American Cancer Society’s donation represents the second largest donation in the Law School’s history, the first being the donation of all the Law School assets upon its conversion to nonprofit by Dr. Michael C. Markovitz, Chairman of the Board of the Directors and long-time friend. Dr. Markovitz’s generous donation is in-line with his nearly 30-year relationship with the Law School, repeatedly going above and beyond to ensure its success. 

“The gift by the American Cancer Society is without a doubt the single most important gift the Law School has ever received,” said Dean and CEO, Jace C. Gatewood. “Without their generosity, this move would not have been financially feasible for the Law School without incurring a large amount of debt.” Gatewood continues, “In the coming weeks, we will find some way to permanently honor their gift and show our gratitude.”

“I speak for the entire Board of the Law School when I say we are completely delighted with Dean Gatewood’s leadership in all matters, and especially as regards the move. Law school staff rose to the challenge of coordinating the complexity of issues that all came together in a successful move on an accelerated schedule. Bravo to everyone involved,” said Chairman, Michael C. Markovitz.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is thankful for its generous supporters, growth, and ability to better serve its students, alumni, and legal community.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School – different on purpose.

AJMLS Alumna, Mandira Sethi, Named First AABS Outstanding Alumni Service Award Recipient

The Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS) Outstanding Alumni Service Award is awarded annually to an outstanding alumnus of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) for extraordinary service and leadership in supporting graduates as they prepare to take the bar exam. Recipients of this award will have demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond to assist bar takers on their path to success by dedicating their time, energy, and expertise to their alma mater and recent graduates in extraordinary ways. AJMLS has a favorite saying, “Our students come for law school but find a community,” and recipients of this award will have demonstrated a true commitment to that sense of community by lifting others to new heights.

The inaugural recipient of this award is Mandira Sethi, AJMLS Class of 2020, currently a Staff Attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Even though Mandira was very busy working on a wide array of immigrant visas and nonimmigrant petitions during her first year as a practicing attorney after many successful years as a diligent and successful paralegal, she dedicated many hours of her free time to supporting students preparing for the July 2021 bar exam. Not only did she participate in AABS discussion panels, check-in regularly with the Assistant Dean of the Department, and willingly share her experiences, but she also met regularly with students and offered her insights into successful bar preparation and essay writing. Mandira was available to any alumni who reached out, whether she was acquainted with them or not, and her efforts will undoubtedly pay off for all of the bar takers that she worked with.

AJMLS is proud to name Mandira Sethi the first recipient of the AABS Outstanding Alumni Service Award.

August 4, 2021

Each day, the campus looks entirely different and more ready for us to open our doors. Did you know, our classrooms have stadium seating? There are options for students to sit or stand depending on their comfort level.

July 2021 Employee of the Month, Cynthia Davenporte

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) established its Employee of the Month Program in 2021 to recognize hard working employees. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The July 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Cynthia Davenporte, Director of Human Resources.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Cynthia joined the AJMLS family in 2008. Prior to joining the Law School, she was a Collateral Specialist with Citizens Trust Bank. After several years, she worked as a Human Resources Specialist with a government contracting company, and IT trainer for another organization.

Cynthia wears many hats, from office manager, to counselor, to graduation coordinator, and is more than Director of Human Resources. Whenever we need a helping hand, Cynthia is there to assist.

Cynthia resides in Fairburn, Georgia with her husband and two children. She is also a proud alumna of Morris Brown College, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, and Delta Omicron Professional Music Fraternity, Inc.. These memberships allow her to serve her community, which is one of her passions. We are very fortunate to have her on our team!

June 2021 Employee of the Month, Michael Gatewood

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to continue its Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The June 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Michael (Mike) Gatewood, Assistant Building Engineer.

Prior to joining Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in March 2020, Mike served the New York State Office of Children and Family Services for 20 years! He worked in the juvenile justice division where he worked directly with court adjudicated youth in a residential setting. Mike noted that working at AJMLS in the facilities department has been a welcomed challenge and change of career. He looks forward to working with and continuing to meet the employees at AJMLS as everyone returns to campus this fall.

Mike joined the AJMLS family just prior to the pandemic and has been on-site nearly every day since. He has been described as always nice and works with a smile! Mike operates with a high degree of excellence, professionalism, and customer service. We are very fortunate to have Mike on our team!

Meet the Atlanta’s John Marshall 2021-2022 Executive Board

Brianna Smith, President

Where were you raised: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I received my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Public Relations minor, from  The Howard University in Washington, D.C.

What are your future career plans: I plan to be an Intellectual Property Attorney with a focus in Entertainment and Business Law.  

What do you look forward to as the SBA President: As SBA President this year my main goal is to rebuild our community. We have relocated and are finally able to attend in person classes after a year. There are so many connections that students and faculty have to make with one another as well as with the outside legal network. I plan to work on rebuilding that network and community. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: We are all in this together. The SBA is here to help, hear and advocate for you. We are John Marshall Proud! 

Keith Collins, Vice President

Where were you raised: I was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I am so proud to be a graduate of one of the greatest HBCU’s,(Historically Black College or University) in all the land, Norfolk State University. Behold!

What are your future career plans: I rarely say this out loud to other people, but I want to be a Supreme Court Justice, one day. I also have interests in Criminal Law and Intellectual Property.

What do you look forward to as the Vice President: The thing I look forward to most as the Vice President of this Student Bar Association is bringing my personal platform to our student body and faculty. I believe in the oneness of the human experience and I am excited to see what greatness all of John Marshall can achieve when we share our personal experiences among our community, so that we can better understand one another, collectively.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My greatest goals this academic year are: (1) to promote and develope more opportunities for scholarship and academic achievement on campus, (2) to gain a recognizable identity as a #johnmarshallproud student body in the legal community, and (3) to lead with kindness and professionalism in every endeavor.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know that I am here for them. I’m the guy that will speak to everyone, I’ll ask any question that you need answered, and I love finding opportunities to meet new people and share friendship.

Mercedes L. Dickerson, Secretary

Where were you raised: I was raised in Fortson, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate education: I went to Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, and I studied Political Science and Spanish.

What are your future career plans: I want to be a civil rights attorney and open my own law firm with a focus on providing legal services for low-income minorities. I also want to open a non-profit organization that supports impoverished women and children.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Secretary: I look forward to helping increase communication between the student body and faculty and the administration. I also look forward to serving as the Editor in Chief of the SBA Newsletter.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My goal is to provide a transparent account of the SBA’s goals and our performance executing them. I also strive to maintain an open line of communication with my fellow classmates, so I can accurately represent their concerns to the SBA executive board and John Marshall’s administration.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am very passionate about helping my fellow classmates, and I welcome all students to come to me with any questions or concerns they have.

Hanna Canavan, Treasurer

Where were you raised: I was raised in Douglasville, GA. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: Kennesaw State University

What are your future career plans: I’m currently seeing all of what law school has to offer; however, my passion and the reason why I chose to attend law school was to become a criminal defense attorney.

What do you look forward to as the Treasurer: I look forward to assisting as a member on the executive board, participating in the different committees and events, and helping student organizations with the logistics behind the scenes. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: To be open and transparent with the organizations and student body. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am always available by text, call or email if there is a situation in which you need my immediate help. Just give me a shout!

Dylan Annis, Parliamentarian

Where were you raised: I was raised in Dacula, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate degree at Kennesaw State University with a degree in Marketing.

What are your future career plans: Following graduation, I hope to look forward to a career practicing law with a focus on complex civil litigation. 

What do you look forward to as the Parliamentarian: As Parliamentarian, I look forward to contributing to helping the SBA Board and other organizations establish successful and reoccurring events that AJMLS students can look forward to every year. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: This year I hope to help every new organization establish methods and procedures that help the organization run smoothly and efficiently for years to come. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want all my classmates to know that I am always just a call or text away. I look forward to being a part of your network, both personal and professional, or years to come.

Bar Exam July 2021: Your Best is Yet to Come

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

The July 2021 bar exam is right around the corner, and this is a stressful time. As the bar exam dates get closer, future examinees tend to put a lot more emphasis and react more strongly to how they performed ‘today.’ The sense of time running out, combined with the elusive (and impossible) search for perfection on practice questions and essays, leads to people suffering as they strive to understand why today they scored x, but yesterday they scored y. Furthermore, this leads to fears about what is going to happen in the future when they might get z score. These concerns are normal in the process, but not realistic as a method of approach and to perform your best.

I attached the graph above to remind you that your best is going to vary daily, and although you have invested plenty of time and effort up to this point, you will still have days that are up and down in terms of your daily scoring. Please remember that your up days shouldn’t lead you to be overconfident, and that your down days shouldn’t destroy your confidence. Instead, I encourage you to simply keep in mind that each day is an opportunity to improve, and fluctuations will occur. These are normal, and one single day will neither make nor break you when it comes to ultimately being successful. Additionally, if you step back and think about it rationally, each day you are encountering different items, specific nuances, varying levels of difficulty, and will have varying levels of mental energy and focus. You are not a machine, and you should not expect bar prep to be an assembly line process where everything looks the same at the end of each day.

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.”

~Sumner Redstone

Remember that bar exam preparation is not about being perfect and knowing everything. Bar exam preparation is about studying, putting forth the effort, and learning from your mistakes as you progress. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them is part of the path of progress. 

What many people see as failure on any particular day is not that at all, but rather it is an opportunity to learn a nuance, uncover a misunderstanding, or gain an insight. It is an opportunity to see a literal red X in your bar prep programming now so that you can eventually get the proverbial green light of success notification from the Board of Bar Examiners later. This is a difficult time period, but it is one of opportunities that you have worked towards for years, and now is your time to shine. See each day as an opportunity to gain knowledge and set your sights on success.

I know that you can do this. Strive to learn something new each day and improve, dedicate your time to bar preparation, and treat yourself with kindness. You have been successful your entire life to arrive at this point, and you can continue to be successful moving forward. The bar exam is a difficult challenge, but it is an achievable goal for you to accomplish. You simply have to keep working hard and believing in yourself the way that I believe in you. 

You can pass the bar exam! You’ve got this! Keep working hard and take advantage of each day on your journey to successfully becoming an attorney and receiving that celebratory news letting you know that you passed the bar exam!

Keep working hard and turn your dreams into reality!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Linda A. Klein to the Board of Directors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Linda A. Klein, immediate past president of the American Bar Association and Shareholder at Baker Donelson, to the Board of Directors as an ex officio member. Linda’s leadership experience and work at the American Bar Association, which is the largest voluntary professional association in the world, are welcomed assets to the team during this exciting time of growth.

Ms. Klein regularly counsels on business dispute prevention and resolution, contract law, risk and crisis management, media relations, ethics and governance. She is particularly experienced in advising the construction, pharmaceutical and higher education industries. She also advises lawyers, architects, accountants and other professionals at risk for large claims or their licenses.

Ms. Klein is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Who’s Who in America and Chambers USA. She is regularly named to the Super Lawyers top 100 lawyers in Georgia. In 1998, following her term as the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Georgia, Georgia Trend Magazine named her one of the 100 most powerful and influential Georgians.

In the American Bar Association, she previously served as chair of the House of Delegates, the association’s policy making body. She has also served as chair of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, and chair of ABA Day, the Association’s Congressional outreach effort. She is a recent member of the Council of the ABA Section of International Law and also serves as a columnist Law Practice Management Magazine. In 2013 Ms. Klein had the honor of being a McGlothlin fellow on the campuses of William and Mary’s Business and Law Schools. She delivered the commencement addresses at Georgia State University College of Law (2017), Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (2017), Pepperdine University School of Law (2016), Washington and Lee University School of Law (2012), and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (2018). In 2009, Ms. Klein was honored with the Randolph Thrower Award for Lifetime Achievement and was named to the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers. In 2004, the American Bar Association honored Ms. Klein with the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

She currently serves on the executive committee of the Buckhead Coalition, on the advisory boards of Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. She is a past president of Southface Energy Institute, the Board of Directors’ Network, (now On Board), the Caucus of State Bars, and past chair of both the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. She also served a six-year term on Baker Donelson’s Board of Directors.

Ms. Klein has authored numerous published works. Her lecture schedule has included presentations in France, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, Croatia, Poland, and Canada, but most extensively in the southeast United States. She is a member of the American Law Institute, and a mediator and arbitrator, frequently serving as a neutral as well as a client advocate.

Linda joins the following members of the Board of Directors:

Dr. Michael C. Markovitz, Ph.D.

Chairman

Dean Frank T. Read

Vice Chairman

President & Dean Emeritus, South Texas College of Law

Kwaku C. George (KC)

Director, National Development Council

Honorable Carol W. Hunstein

Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

Adam Malone

Partner, Malone Law

Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker

County Attorney, Fulton County, Georgia

Kevin Ross

President, Kevin Ross Public Affairs Group LLC

Dean James P. White

Consultant Emeritus, Section of Legal Education & Admission to the Bar, American Bar Association

AJMLS 2L, Ashley Starnes, Awarded Georgia Latino Law Foundation Judicial Internship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates rising 2L, Ashley Starnes, who was awarded a summer judicial internship from the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF). Ashley will be completing her summer internship with the Honorable Judge Joe C. Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. 

As part of its commitment to supporting Latino law students in their search for the career they want, each year, the GLLF provides connections to the bench through its judicial internship program. 

Ashley helped us learn a bit more about herself with the interview below.

What led you to pursue a career in law?

“I wanted to pursue a career in law in order to be part of this country’s judicial system and try to improve the areas where that system may fail.”

Why AJMLS?

“I went to Georgia Tech and knew I did not want to leave Atlanta. AJMLS offered me a wonderful scholarship and a chance to pursue my dreams in the city I love. It was a no-brainer!”

What does the future look like for you after graduation?

“I hope to land a clerkship with a federal judge after I graduate and have dreams of opening my own general practice firm one day.”

What will you be doing this summer with your internship?

“This summer, I am interning for the Honorable Judge Joe C. Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. He is a wonderful mentor. I am excited to learn about all different areas of law, practice my memo and order writing, and experience the courtroom with a Judge’s eyes!”

Who inspires you?

“I am inspired by my family. They have always supported me through tough times and instilled values of community, compassion, and diligence. They are the reason I strive for success today.”

Congratulations again, Ashley, we hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you again in the fall.

May 2021 Employee of the Month, Scot Goins

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to continue its Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The May 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success.

Prior to joining Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in September 2020, Scot worked as a Regional Director for Kaplan Bar Review, but his experience ranges from working at a big New York law firm, to teaching business law, and includes building several successful startups from the ground up. He started his career at AJMLS as the Director of the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success, where he focuses on student service, utilizing data analytics for programming outcomes, and most importantly, the success of students. He is of the firm belief that the bar exam, like law school, should be a stepping stone on the path to being an impactful attorney, and he strives daily to help students realize their dreams and potential. Scot is also the author of his department’s blog, Law School Brief.

Originally from Virginia, Scot enjoys mountain biking, hiking with his dog Lucy, and cheering for his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He also enjoys spending time with his niece and nephew, Halona and Chayton, as well as traveling the world and exploring different cultures.

Scot joined the AJMLS family during the pandemic and has embraced his new position and continues to jump into more involvement, above and beyond what he is required. Scot  consistently demonstrates a high degree of excellence, professionalism, and integrity in the performance of his duties and routinely shows a willingness to extend himself to help others at AJMLS. We are very fortunate to have Scot on our team!

Congratulations to Our 2021 Graduates and Award Recipients

The Law School is incredibly proud of its graduates. Your perseverance and resilience during this challenging time is a testament to your professionalism and work ethic. We look forward to following your careers and championing all your future successes.

Valedictorians

This award is given to the valedictorian from each of the school’s divisions (full-time and part-time).

Miriam Perfecto, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of West Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My top favorite memories were when I was chosen as Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal for the 2020-2021 year and when I found out I was Valedictorian.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My dream is to start my own law practice one day.

Morgan Eipper, full-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Outstanding Graduate Awards

This award is given annually to one graduate in each of the school’s divisions (part-time and full-time) who best demonstrates standards of competence and professionalism, a strong social conscience, high ethical standards, and a commitment to the improvement of the legal system and society, as determined by the Faculty on recommendation of the Honors and Awards Committee.

Morgan Eipper, full-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Tessa Martin, full-time program

Undergraduate School:

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

Getting appointed Managing Editor of Law Review and working with my fellow colleagues on Law Review. Our virtual meetings during Covid were fun and we always helped motivate and push each other. 

Plans after bar exam:

I am excited to practice in the field of family law and personal injury. My goal is to be an excellent litigator and advocate for my clients.

Ashley S. Lewis, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

Benedict College (Columbia, SC) and University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) for Paralegal Certificate

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Specifically 2018)- This was a dinner to remember, I was able to help decorate the student lounge and students, faculty, and staff were able to drop-in for a hearty dinner. The food was delicious and the love that was spread reminded me of my very own family thanksgiving. I am happy that AJMLS is now a part of my extended family! I will never forget the joy and support the school has provided me over the past four years!

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My future aspiration is to become a corporate finance and securities attorney. However, I want to always ensure I am giving back to the community in which I live, whether through pro bono or community service efforts. One of my favorite organizations is the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (i.e. AVLF).

Promiss Yvonne Yarber, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

Georgia Southern University 

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

I believe that I have too many fond memories and am unable to pick just one. From attending events, to serving on the SBA Executive Board, to creating lost lasting friendships, I would not trade my experience at this school for anything in the world. It has been one of the most fulfilling time periods in my life.

Plans/ dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam I hope to begin a career as a closing attorney. I also hope to engage in pro bono services and one day create a scholarship fund to give back to AJMLS students.

Matthew James Repella, part-time program

Miriam Perfecto, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of West Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My top favorite memories were when I was chosen as Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal for the 2020-2021 year and when I found out I was Valedictorian.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My dream is to start my own law practice one day.

Megan Maloney Sale, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have many favorite memories, but the most special is becoming great friends with the night students. What an amazing atmosphere the school creates for those of us that are traveling through law school on the less beaten path.  

Plans after the bar exam:

After the passing the bar exam I will be joining a corporation as in-house counsel. I hope to give back to the AJMLS community as much as the AJMLS community has given to me over the past four years.  What an honor and a privilege to attend AJMLS.

Excellence In Appellate Advocacy

This award is given to the outstanding student participant on a John Marshall Law School moot court competition team.

Mandira Sethi

Undergraduate institution:

Emory University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Picking one AJMLS memory is so difficult for me, as I had so many that truly shaped me into the person I am today. The first would be in my 1L year, being cold-called in Professor Van Detta’s Contracts class, to this day, I still remember the terrifying feeling. I remember fumbling through the hypo, but in that moment things changed. That day I gained a mentor for life, what I learned from Professor Van Detta is something I will never be able to fully describe into words. It is a memory I will cherish forever.

My second would be competing in the Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition and becoming Chair of the Moot Court Advocacy. Moot Court is an invaluable experience to all students, it helps us perfect our oral and legal writing skills. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

Ten years ago, I started my path in immigration law as a paralegal with the goal of helping immigrants, like myself, come to this country and pursue their dreams. Now, as an Immigration Attorney, I hope to give back to the community.

Zachary Warfel

Undergraduate institution:

Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Spending hours in the library studying just to get a C+ on a final.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

I plan to work at Wakhisi-Douglas and hopefully make a lot of money.

Excellence in Pro Bono

This award is given to those students whose pro bono hours are among the top 10% earned in the graduating class. This award is not merit-based.

Morgan Eipper

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Ashley S. Lewis

Undergraduate institution:

Benedict College (Columbia, SC) and University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) for Paralegal Certificate

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Specifically 2018)- This was a dinner to remember, I was able to help decorate the student lounge and students, faculty, and staff were able to drop-in for a hearty dinner. The food was delicious and the love that was spread reminded me of my very own family thanksgiving. I am happy that AJMLS is now a part of my extended family! I will never forget the joy and support the school has provided me over the past four years!

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My future aspiration is to become a corporate finance and securities attorney. However, I want to always ensure I am giving back to the community in which I live, whether through pro bono or community service efforts. One of my favorite organizations is the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (i.e. AVLF).

Tyler White

Stacy Williams

Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Outstanding Graduate Award

This award is given to a woman from each Georgia law school based on academic accomplishments and contributions to women’s issues.

Brittany Lenoch

Undergraduate institution:

Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Earning top appellee oralist in Professor Dalton’s legal writing class and a position on moot court

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I’ve accepted an offer to work for a small criminal defense firm that I’ve interned for since 2015. I plan to primarily practice criminal defense, but also hope to work on juvenile and family law matters. 

Edward J. Henning Award for Excellence in Dispute Resolution

This award is given to an outstanding ADR student at each of the state’s five ABA-accredited law schools. These awards are given in memory of Ed Henning, one of the “founding fathers” of mediation in Georgia.

Damilola Elizabeth Olatunde

Undergraduate Institution:

Georgia Southern University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have lots of wonderful memories. One memory that left an imprint on me was during my first year of law school. I was struggling and finding it hard to adjust to law school. It was my first time answering a question correctly in Professor Van Detta’s contract class. Disclaimer: It can be a little difficult to give a completely correct answer. But this event made me feel like I could make it through law school.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

Take a break, travel, look for a job and continue working on my organization for orphans in Nigeria. 

The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears Pro Bono Award

The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears Pro Bono Award is given to the graduate whose pro bono work has demonstrated outstanding commitment to legal services for underserved communities and their work was impactful.

Yvette Hill

Undergraduate institution:

Morgan State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have several invaluable memories at AJMLS, but my favorite is working in the school’s business office as a receptionist. It afforded me the opportunity to build priceless, lifelong relationships with John Marshall staff, faculty, and students.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I have been working with the Clayton County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender under the Third Year Student Practice Act since January 2020. As a result, I have been offered (and I have accepted) a permanent position upon passing the bar. My ultimate goal is to continue working as a Criminal Defense Attorney, and to possibly become a Civil Rights Attorney.

National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award

This award is given to a third-year law student who who best exemplifies the following characteristics:

  • Contributes to the advancement of women in society
  • Promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession
  • Exhibits motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm
  • Demonstrates high academic achievement
  • Earns the respect of the faculty and administration

Kristian Postma

Undergraduate Institution:

North Georgia College & State University

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

My favorite memory from AJMLS is getting to know my professors. On one particular emotionally challenging day, Professor Baker sat with me and shared his wisdom about not losing yourself or your perspective during law school. I made it a point from that moment on to remind myself daily of my true purpose and to exercise some grace! Also, the friends I made during my law school career are INVALUABLE.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

After the bar, I will be a Staff Attorney with the State Court of Cherokee County.

Pro Bono Distinction

This distinction is given to students who have completed 75 hours or more of pro bono work during their law school career.

Yvette Hill

Undergraduate institution:

Morgan State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have several invaluable memories at AJMLS, but my favorite is working in the school’s business office as a receptionist. It afforded me the opportunity to build priceless, lifelong relationships with John Marshall staff, faculty, and students.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I have been working with the Clayton County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender under the Third Year Student Practice Act since January 2020. As a result, I have been offered (and I have accepted) a permanent position upon passing the bar. My ultimate goal is to continue working as a Criminal Defense Attorney, and to possibly become a Civil Rights Attorney.

Order of Quill

The Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Order of the Quill (“Order”) is an honor society that recognizes significant academic achievement in designated required doctrinal courses (“Quill” courses). Students who achieve the required cumulative grade point average in the Quill courses will be eligible for admission into the Order. Members of the Order shall receive certificates of membership and be recognized at graduation.

Charles Carr, Scholar

Undergraduate institution:

Georgia State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My favorite memory at John Marshall is debating and arguing about cases in professor Rapping’s criminal justice classes. I learned a lot about criminal law and procedure, but I also learned about how the criminal justice system works and what to expect and watch out for in the courtroom.

Plans/Dreams after the bar exam:

I plan on working as a prosecutor in either the District Attorney or Solicitor General’s office. 

Morgan Eipper, Honor Scholar and Marshall of the Order

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Gianna Carolina Franceschini, Scholar

December 2020 Graduates

Yoana Maribel Banuelos

Jared Seth Claxon

Jessica Monserratt Devins

Ashley Lynn McDonald

Miracle Champale McGowan

Alexandra Mosiyachenko

Mandira Sethi

Renee Elaine Taylor

Martin A. Thomas

Ashley Alexis Winston

May 2021 Graduates

Karla Vidal Barrios

Melissa Barrett

Brenna Denia Bates

Glynneisha Jenny Bellamy

Claxton J. Boutwell, cum laude

Charles Logan Carr, magna cum laude*

Whitnie Lúchelle Carter

Justin Carth Cavanaugh

Stephen Andrew Crabtree

Don Alan Dixon, Jr.

Morgan Eipper, summa cum laude

Kiara Richelle Flantroy

Gianna Franceschini, magna cum laude

Gulliana L. Goehring, cum laude

Reginald Anthony Greene, Jr.

Daniel Y. Guo

Ashley Lindsey

Emory Lott

Adam Carson Lowney

Marie T. Martin, cum laude

Cynthia Dawn McDonald

Damilola Elizabeth Olatunde

Aristides D. Passas, cum laude

Mario Andres Pereira*

Miriam Perfecto, magna cum laude

Kristian Audrianna Postma, cum laude

Thomas Kell Randall, Jr.*

Jessica Marie Ratliff

Imani Redd

Matthew Repella, summa cum laude

Reneé S. Richardson

Megan Maloney Sale, cum laude

Martha Tewolde Habtemicael

Yvette Hill

Delesia S. Horton

Jenna Marie Hough

Don’Etrick Ja’Rod Houston

Sherin Hylan, cum laude

Catheryne Jenkins

Jessica Lea Jones*

Sarah Khan

Nicole Hejune Kim

Delenia Anita King

Jeffery Scott Knight

Brittany Shajuan Larcart

Bryson Kiara Lax*

Brittany Leigh Lenoch

Ashley S. Lewis

Cherie Nicole Sebro

Mahek Shah

Thomas William Sizemore

Suncearae Q. Spears

Mahham Syed

Heather Shannon Thornburg

Mindi Lynn Thrash, cum laude

Nicholas Brian Vowell

Zachary James Warfel

Tyler James White

Christopher Williams, cum laude

Stacy Lee Williams

Victoria Williams

Promiss Yvonne Yarber

Crystal D. Richmond Yarbrough

Vangelis Leonardo Zafiroulis

July 2021 Graduates

Bailey Ellis Farner

Williametta Garnett

David T. Harrison

Sydney Saponari

Justin Wills

*Criminal Justice Certificate Program

April 2021 Employee of the Month, Hilary Waldo

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to continue its Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The April 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Hilary Waldo, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications.

Prior to joining the Law School in February 2012, Hilary worked as an Account Executive at the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and previously as the Marketing and Events Coordinator at Solutions Bridal. She started her career at the Law School as the Director of Meeting and Conference Services managing the Blackburn Conference Center and miscellaneous Law School events. Having both a marketing and events background, she gravitated towards more marketing-themed projects and transitioned to the Admissions team as the marketing lead in 2013.

Originally from Florida, Hilary enjoys the sunshine and cheering for her alma mater, the Florida Gators. Outside of AJMLS, she loves spending time with her husband and college sweetheart, Austin (AJMLS ’14), and her kids, Claire (4), and Calvin (2). Also in her free time, she maintains an unrequited relationship with plants and gardening, and a mutual love with cooking. She often buys orchids or other unsuspecting high maintenance plants with reckless abandon.

Hilary is an awesome member of the team. She is positive, flexible, always makes herself available, and has strong communication skills. We are very fortunate to have her on our team!

AJMLS 1L, Dr. Shannan Young, Awarded Alan Rumph Memorial Fellowship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 1L, Shannan Young, PharmD, MBA, was recently awarded the Alan Rumph Memorial Fellowship for her summer internship with the Georgia Department of Community Health and also the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. The fellowship is awarded annually to commemorate the life of Alan H. Rumph, an exceptional healthcare attorney who served the Georgia Bar Health Law Section and the Georgia Bar in an exemplary fashion as a trusted advisor, friend, and mentor.

Young is a part-time evening student who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of West Georgia, her Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from American Intercontinental University, then her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She also served in the U.S. Army Reserves for eight years as a healthcare sergeant/combat medic. After practicing as a staff pharmacist, then surgical pharmacist in Atlanta, she opened her own pharmacy consulting group, Varxiant Consulting LLC, which she continues to lead as the Chief Pharmacist while attending Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. 

At AJMLS, Shannan is in the top 5% of her class and on the Dean’s List after her first year of study, was named an Outstanding Student of the Quarter for Fall 2020, and earned a CALI Excellence for the Future Award® for Contracts in her first semester of law school. She is also the Student Bar Association 1L Class Representative, a Diversity and Inclusion Student Committee Member, Barbri Representative, Southern Regional Black Law Student Association Social Action Director, American Bar Association Student Liaison – Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health IG, Gate City Bar Student Member, and Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys Student Member.

Shannan engaged in answering a number of questions for us to help our community get to know her and her journey better.

What led you to change careers? 

“Most of my career decisions were the result of me responding to a need or a cause that directly impacted someone I cared about, I call it my hero’s journey. My personal trek into unknown territory to retrieve something that my family or I needed. Each new adventure planted the seeds for this next adventure. Additionally, having taken all of the adventures that I have, I have often noticed that the people that make decisions are very far removed from the processes that they control. As a result I feel that it is my duty to speak up having witnessed health inequity and systemic racism not only as a minority, as a woman, as a soldier, as a patient, as a family member of a patient who was mistreated by the healthcare system, as a healthcare provider, and soon as an attorney.”

Why AJMLS? 

“AJMLS offered a flexible program that worked with my schedule as a consultant pharmacist.”

How do you balance work and law school? 

Once I figure that out, I will let you know. Honestly as hard as law school is, the demand of it is a lot like my life as a multi passionate adult outside of school. I have always had a tendency to take on a lot of things at once and oddly enough I feel like I do best when I am running around like a chicken with its head off. One thing that I can say helps me is that outside of reading my textbook and reviewing my class notes, I listen to the Barbri lectures whenever I am in my car, I think the repetition helps me. Other than that I try to write everything down so I can keep track of all the things I need to do and I constantly tell myself that I can, I will, and I must see this through.

What does the future look like for you after graduation? 

I don’t know exactly but I am optimistic. My goal is to be at the decision-making table relying on my acquired knowledge, my experiences, and my personal connection to the realities of my community to make meaningful change as it pertains to the health and welfare of minorities and other disenfranchised groups.

What will you be doing this summer with your internship?

A little bit of everything! This summer I will be splitting my summer between the Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. I am primarily hoping to get some insight into policy approaches to address health disparities and the development/implementation of policy at a local and state level. Additionally, I have been asked by two different law firms to assist on independent projects so I am excited about that especially because it will give me some exposure to state and federal litigation.

Who inspires you? 

I am forever inspired by all the minorities and all the women that have paved the way for me to be able to do everything that I have done and will do in the future. I am also forever inspired by everyone who has been able to turn tragedy into triumph and to overcome adversity. 

It is our pleasure to be a part of Shannan’s journey and we wish her all the best in her internships this summer. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

AJMLS Honors Judge Angela Duncan and Corey Martin as 2021 Distinguished Alumni

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) presented The Distinguished Alumni Award to two incredible alumni at the 2021 commencement ceremony. This year’s honorees are Judge Angela Duncan, Class of 1996, and Corey Martin, Class of 2009. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have obtained distinction in their professional careers. Those honored share the same characteristics of leadership, progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage, and confidence. Their careers serve as models for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students and alumni.

Honorable Angela Duncan

Angela D. Duncan is the newest Superior Court Judge in the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit and was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from North Georgia College and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from March 1987 to March 1995 as a light-weight vehicle mechanic.

She later attended Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School part-time attending both day and night classes while also maintaining a full-time job. Throughout her study, she sought to experience different areas of law by working at a different firm each year of law school. She learned every aspect of private firms, from working in the file room to becoming a law librarian assistant and court runner. She also experienced many different law practices prior to graduation, from labor law and appellate work to personal injury and criminal defense.

While continuing her practice, Judge Duncan served as a Judge in the Cities of Chamblee, Snellville, Doraville, and Norcross Municipal Courts and as a part-time Judge for the Magistrate Court in Gwinnett County before she was appointed as a full-time Magistrate Court Judge in 2016. She was the Chief Judge in the City of Chamblee when Governor Kemp appointed her to the Superior Court bench.

Judge Duncan’s passion for service is not just reserved for the legal system in Gwinnett County. When she is not presiding over court proceedings she can be found out in the community participating in one of the many outreach programs she is a member of, including the Veterans Resource Center and serving as a board member for Gold Star Monument.

Corey Martin

Corey Martin is the Founder and Managing Partner at The Law Offices of Martin & Associates located in Douglasville, Georgia. His law practice focuses on Criminal Defense, Immigration and Personal Injury. He is a Senior Adviser for Martin Financial Solutions and Counsel for J&A Sports Management. He graduated with Honors in 2009 from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and received his undergraduate Math Degree from Excelsior College. While in law school Corey externed with the IRS, Douglas County Solicitor General’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security- Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Corey is an eight (8) year military veteran and is the Supervising Attorney of AJMLS’, Veterans Legal Clinic located at Fort McPherson, Georgia. The Legal Clinic represents veterans free of charge in misdemeanor criminal cases throughout the State of Georgia. He is an active member of the AJMLS Alumni Board and frequently volunteers to help students prepare for the legal field.

Corey is a 2020 Daily Report Distinguished Leaders Award Honoree and the recipient of the 2020 State Bar of Georgia, William B. Spann Jr. Award. He is also a Douglas County Partner in Education, a Douglas County Juvenile Court Administrative Council Member, a Match Mentor, a Partner of Fundacion Voces Unidas and a member of several Boards.

AJMLS Participates in 14th Annual Youth and the Law Summit

On Saturday, April 24, 2021, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) sponsored and participated in the 14th annual Youth and the Law Summit. The 2021 summit was successfully held virtually due to COVID-19.

Under the leadership of Dr. Bridgett Ortega, Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, Mr. Paul Wilson and ten AJMLS students volunteered to help support the first-ever virtual Youth and the Law Summit led by Judge Renata Turner and the Juvenile Court of Fulton County. Judge Turner is a long-time friend of the Law School and previously served as its Assistant Dean of Pro Bono and Experiential Learning. This year’s event, titled “Dreams 2 Reality”, was co-chaired by Darrick McDuffie, senior counsel at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP, and Dr. Bridgett Ortega.

The Youth and the Law Summit is an annual event that focuses on providing meaningful and impactful education and support to teens and parents on a variety of life and legal issues. This year, the summit was organized into breakout rooms where parents and teens could attend interactive sessions with top professionals and ask questions in small groups. Each AJMLS volunteer was tasked to assist in each room along with several other administrative tasks that helped the summit be successful and have over 100 participants.

Many organizations helped support this effort and AJMLS is proud to be a part of such a great group. AJMLS stands true to its commitment to the community and looks forward to helping again next year!